This week a YouGov poll discovered that less than a third of Britons take pride in their Britishness, and around a quarter of us feel a stronger allegiance to their county, town or village. Hooray for that, say I. Of all the moral and intellectual nonsenses available to us, patriotism is among the dumbest. It's not the last refuge of a scoundrel. It's the first resort of a dipstick.
An American politician – Roscoe Conkling, I think – is supposed to have responded to Dr Johnson’s comment on patriotism being the last resort of scoundrels to the effect that Johnson hadn’t considered the possibilities of the word reform. With the current government, we can consider the possibilities of both.